Transition Guelph

Category: General

Transition Guelph is hiring! We’re looking for a web designer to create our new website! Click here for the job description and details on how to apply:

On Thurs. March 12, the Transition Guelph Board regretfully announced to key stakeholders the decision to cancel the 10th annual Resilience Festival.  “Resilience & community are two core values of Transition Guelph.” said Steve Tedesco, Board Chair.   “Both speak strongly to looking out for each other in our community and being respectful of potentially significant risks.  With the rapidly escalating covid-19 pandemic, we are no longer confident that in two weeks we can offer a safe and healthy environment for Festival goers.”

Cancelling the Festival due to an unexpected risk event is ironic and unfortunate.   The Festival theme of local food represents a critical part of reducing our community’s vulnerability to the health, economic, and supply chain disruptions to come.   STAY TUNED!  Transition Guelph will look for other ways to get these important messages out.

A huge “thank you” goes out to all the organizers, Festival participants and sponsors for their work, enthusiasm and commitment to the Festival.  We look forward to putting on a great Festival when the time is right.

For those of you looking forward to Seedy Saturday – these are the vendors to contact:

This is guest post from Evan Ferrari, Executive Director of eMERGE Guelph, one of Transition Guelph’s wonderful partner organizations. If you have more questions about the CEI and how you can help, please get in touch with me at

Photo from

Photo from

What’s the best thing you can do on Earth Day?

Support the CEI (Community Energy Initiative) – creating a local economy that puts more people to work by reducing the pollution causing climate change.

On Monday April 25 the city will make a decision on the fate of whether to update the CEI. Rarely do we get a chance to have a profound impact on the future of our city’s economy – and at the same time – improve our environment. Add your voice to update the CEI and accelerate the work to create a post-carbon economy.

The CEI provides all of us with the opportunity to transform our local economy for the better. An economy that will focus on putting our neighbours and families to work by investing in:

  • using less energy,
  • using energy more wisely
  • and producing more clean energy alternatives locally.

It’s about creating more energy security within our city.

By getting this right we can keep more of the half a $ billion dollars a year in energy costs that leaves the city — right here. We can do this by putting more people to work locally. And at the same time we would be creating a healthier place for our children to grow and prosper. Now nine years old, the initiative has some challenges. But an update will focus us toward a cleaner and more prosperous path forward. The Guelph CEI has been a catalyst for municipalities across the country to take charge of their own local economy.

Some of the local benefits that have come from the CEI include:

  1. Guelph generates 50% more peak electricity locally than similar Ontario communities. We’ve done this through solar photo-voltaic, combined heat and power and by harnessing methane from the former Eastview landfill site. This amounts to 10’s of millions of dollars of local capital investment – at a minimum. And millions of dollars, every year, staying in the city from the electricity that’s been generated. Those generating systems are owned by local businesses, co-ops, institutions, places of worship and individual homeowners. We are 50% above average because of the CEI.
  2. And then there’s a new project where Reids Heritage Homes wants to work with their competitors to build an entire community of highly efficient Net-Zero homes that will be 3 times more energy efficient than the current building code. They don’t want to build a single ‘demonstration home’ but an entire community. They have been very clear that they want to do this in Guelph because of the CEI.
  3. Another downtown property -about to be renovated – is considering making their building “District Energy Ready” They’re considering this because of the CEI.
  4. Then there’s the Canadian Solar plant that employs 500 people. Canadian Solar has 10,000 employees worldwide. Their revenue in 2014: $2.96 Billion US (more than $3 Billion CAD). In 2015 they ranked second worldwide in solar panel shipments. And they chose to make Guelph their worldwide headquarters because of the CEI.

At eMERGE we’re very encouraged that the CEI report is recommending a full public update. It proposes a community driven Initiative that re-engages businesses, institutions and of course all citizens of Guelph to make this a robust a plan. We encourage you to let city council know how you feel about updating the CEI in order to move towards a diversified economy that makes our community healthier and more prosperous.

We are calling this year’s festival a great success! With a more condensed schedule than last year, it seemed to suit the mood. We ran events from Thursday to Sunday covering a good variety of interests.

The Builder’s Symposium reported a good turn out, as did the film screening (with a few technical difficulties). On Saturday, we had a lot of people through the festival to learn new skills at the Minga Skill Building workshops and buy seeds for their garden at Seedy Saturday. Guelph Community Acupuncture also offered free treatments through the afternoon. The raffle raised a good bit of money to help cover costs, and boasted prizes such as gift certificates to New Age, Zehrs and Smitten Apparel, as well as a Wike cargo trailer!

Here are the raffle winners. We will be contacting you by phone if you haven’t heard from us yet.

Rain Barrel: Sherry Dubé
Green light at the end of the tunnel (book) and membership to Yorklands Green Hub: Bern
Gift certificate to Smitten Apparel: Sharon
Gift certificate to Minga Skill Building Hub: Sandy
Gift certificate to New Age health food store: Stan
Gift certificate to Zehrs: Emily, Annie
Wellington Brewery gift basket: Wanita, Janet
Fairy house from Lucien Gagnon: Tiff
Wike Economy cargo trailer: Dave

On Saturday evening we had around 100 people for the 8th annual Earth Hour Potluck, lit by solar-charged-battery-powered Christmas lights (thanks Doug!). We enjoyed good food and a good company while the little ones of the community ran around and laughed together. Finishing off Saturday night, Gary Diggins lead the Big Beat at Silence, which saw around 50 people share a solstice celebration in music and dance.

Sunday morning’s Living Life to the Fullest workshop, at Innovation Guelph was very well attended. Partner yoga was small but fun, and the Narratives workshop in the afternoon was cancelled due to lack of participants.

Overall, we are happy with how the festival went, and are grateful to our volunteers, coordinators, event and workshop leaders, and everyone who came out! Thank you for another great year!

As a note, if you volunteered with the festival this year and would like to receive timebank hours as payment for your efforts, please email

The last of the sap pick ups will take place next week.  You can drop off your sap on Monday March 14 and Wednesday March 16 from 5 until 6 p.m. at the St. James Parking lot (86 Glasgow Street North).

If your tree has stopped running, sap has not come out of the tree for three or four day in a row, please return your kits.  Give the equipment a quick rinse but do not use any soap of cleaners on it.  Also remember to keep your sap in a cool place out of the sun.  It can also be frozen to ensure that it does not go off.

The Urban Sugaring Project TeamIMG_20160310_181749

RotaryTransition Guelph is pleased to be the recipient of a 2016 Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium Community Funding Grant.  The grant for $500 will be used to establish Guelph’s first tool library.  The library will have tools that anyone can borrow to be a successful gardener and to properly preserve food.

The grant recognizes that there is a clearly identified need for this program and provides seed money for Transition Guelph to undertake this project.  We are thankful for the support of the Rotary Club of Guelph-Trillium.

Click here to find out more Guelph Tool library.


GuelphTransition Guelph is the recipient of a 2016 Community Wellbeing Grant from the City of Guelph.  Transition Guelph was awarded $5000 to support the 2016 Resilience Festival, the Urban Sugaring Project,  and the start up of the Guelph Tool Library.  Transition Guelph is thankful for the on-going support of the City of Guelph through these grants.

The invitation to participate in the Keynote panel during Resilience 2015 gave Christine and me a great opportunity to reflect on the early days of Transition Guelph and all that has come into being since then. Thank you, planning volunteers, for the invitation to speak, and thanks to everyone at the Keynote evening who asked questions and contributed to the discussion, and helped to cohere these realizations!

All of us have been on a rich venture of learning and doing since the beginnings of TG. I’d like to share some thoughts that stand out as I look back and imagine forward. Most of these represent knowledge we early organizers held early on that has been confirmed and enriched along the way.

The main points are:

  • Resilience is about learning and adapting
  • Visioning is vital
  • Relationship is primary
  • It’s about people care as Earth care, individual and group sustainability
  • It’s about the power of community, and the power of one

Thanks in advance for your attention. Here we go!

Resilience is about learning and growing together in order to adapt.

Resilience is more than just “bouncing back” from adversity, as important as that is. The people of Transition Guelph follow a long-term strategy of connecting with one another to build thriving systems for meeting people’s needs – healthy social, economic and environmental systems – in changing or unpredictable circumstances.

I really like Nikki Silvestri’s definition: “I define community resilience as the ability, as a community, to withstand change in a way that protects all people, and an ability to take advantage of change (italics mine) in a way that increases the ability of the community to thrive.”

It has become clear that most of all, Transition is a cultural process, one that reweaves connections, bringing people together, empowering us all with a creative impulse. As Transition Movement founder Rob Hopkins wrote,”… my sense is that Transition embodies the possibility of something that few other things can achieve. It is about what is currently politically impossible becoming politically inevitable. Transition can start to change the tone, change the background buzz, change the sense of what’s possible” (

Change keeps changing, sometimes in surprising ways, and it’s energizing and rewarding to stay flexible and innovative. In Rob Hopkins’ words, “What we are seeing emerging around the world is a new narrative for these times. A narrative that says these are extraordinary times, and times that demand us to be extraordinary.”

Narratives about peak oil have shifted, with more commentators and the public recognizing that the world, especially industrialized societies, need to end the addiction to fossil fuels, even though presently prices are low, for the sake of the climate. Awareness of climate disruption has advanced to where it’s now common to know that burning carbon puts us most at risk of destroying the chances for life on Earth.

A longing for greater justice and sustainability in economic systems is catching hold and spreading. Models old and new that address these questions are arising in abundance:

  • What would it be like for our human economy to be in harmony with the Earth’s economy?
  • What would our communities be like if we put energy into personalized and localized resources that benefit everyone around us?

Re-use and swaps, DIY fabricating and repair, Time Banking, cooperatives and gift economy, even corporate structures like B-Corp that focus on social and environmental good are thriving. Their existence subverts the outdated story that non-stop growth of capitalized wealth is the only way open to humanity.

The importance of Visioning; imagining the world we want to live in

One of the features of the Transition Movement that drew me powerfully in the beginning is the central place of visioning and actualizing positive, forward-looking solutions that can include everyone. As we design and work on the many projects that our volunteers are passionate about, we are all guided by the shared purpose of creating the society we want to live in and pass along to those who come after, our human and other descendants. Intention is fully honoured as a powerful force for opening new possibilities in every realm.

Relationships are primary; building and tending them, we create the better life we want.

To paraphrase from the description of Transition Lab (well worth a read at ): The Transition Movement goes much deeper than merely creating a better survival strategy. Many of us recognize that the biggest problem with our world is that we do not live in relationship with most things in our lives. We are not really connected to where our food comes from, where our phones are made, or where our gas is drilled. This often makes the ecocide all around us distant enough that we are able to keep on going about our lives without much thought to the consequences of our actions.

We grow life-enhancing relationships by:

  • Connecting deeply with Nature – getting to know our place in the world around us and our own wild, intuitive, wise selves
  • Getting really good at communication — learning and practicing the skills in order to foster harmony and make the most of different perspectives and diverse contexts
  • Inviting each person to contribute their gifts and talents – trusting that everyone has valuable parts to play
  • Balancing process and practical orientations in our gatherings and endeavours — inner & outer realms intertwine and enrich one another
  • Talking and listening – as Grace Lee Boggs said a few years ago, “It’s not only important to act, it’s important to talk because when you talk you begin to create new ideas and new languages.”

Persons and organizations need and deserve care and support

Caring for the living Earth means also caring for ourselves and those around us. Giving attention to sustaining our energy and health individually and collectively, we create a better way that subverts the old extractive worldview that sees everything as only resources to be exploited.

Personally, this can mean recognizing the imperative to step back from endless activity before disillusionment or poor health ensue. Consultation, planning, and the goodwill of many have meant that we can make such choices healthy for TG, allowing for shared leadership and greater collaboration. Practices that prevent depletion and burnout will also grow our awareness, stamina and viability – actualizing the vision of resilience on every scale.

The power of one and the power of community

I have been amazed and fascinated to see how so few of us initially have been joined by more and more builders, nurturers, and warriors on the side of life (see Joanna Macy’s story of the Shambhala Warrior in Coming Back to Life), and how this has resulted in the vibrant, creative, busy Transition Guelph of today.

When I first came home inspired with this awesome Transition Towns idea, little did I know that I would find other passionate Guelves and it would turn into potlucks and parties, stimulating film screenings and presentations, community gardens and food-bearing perennials planted in Guelph, a time exchange system, focus on wellbeing and self-care, sustainable builders combining interests and expertise, alliances with wonderful community partners and social enterprises – wow! We have now an ongoing wealth of Inner Transition activities, a lively web presence, Transition Streets, music makers, local movement for Fair Trade, new narratives in the making, greater skills, a beautiful Resilience Festival tradition, and more … plus a robust web of connections and friendships for so many! All of you who are or have been involved are absolutely miraculous – together we are an adaptive, generative system that is alive, creative, and energizing.

A few last words if you wish to keep reading

… from Grace Lee Boggs again:

… I learned as I grew older … that how we change the world and how we think about changing the world has to change… The time has come for us to reimagine everything… How do we reimagine everything in the light of a change that is so far reaching and is our responsibility to make?

We reimagine by combining activism with philosophy, talking about revolution and evolution in the most fundamental terms. We have to do what [I call] visionary organizing. We have to see every crisis as both a danger and an opportunity. It’s a danger because it does so much damage to our lives, to our institutions, to all that we have expected. But it’s also an opportunity for us to become creative; to become the new kind of people that are needed at such a huge period of transition.

… and from Russell Evans, Transition Lab:

We can stop being consumers and instead advocate for our basic needs in ways that make us better citizens. These are relationships that require communication, boundaries, assertiveness, collaboration, and compassion to be successful. These are also exactly the skills we need to develop to be successful beyond our doorsteps in the fight for clean air, water, social justice, fracking, and so on. By working in relationship for our basic needs, instead of being consumers of needs, we fundamentally change how we walk on the planet.

We have to create forms of work that create community and expand our humanity. We know that giving ourselves to work that ignites our passion is possible in many cases only from a position of privilege. We can strive to create work with which everyone can meaningfully contribute, that all people can engage in because they care.

When we start growing our own food, exchanging and sharing labour and skill, and working with community, we make choices that consider the well-being of one another and not just our wallets. These are the ways to fundamentally change how we live and approach our lives. These are powerful, radical actions that we can take towards healing our planet and ourselves

… and from the Poet Rainer Maria Rilke

The Machine endangers all we have made.
We allow it to rule instead of obey.

To build a house, cut the stone sharp and fast:
the carver’s hand takes too long to feel its way.

The Machine never hesitates, or we might escape
and its factories subside into silence.
It thinks it’s alive and does everything better.
With equal resolve it creates and destroys.

But life holds mystery for us yet. In a hundred places
we can still sense the source: a play of pure powers
that — when you feel it — brings you to your knees.

There are yet words that come near the unsayable,
and, from crumbling stones, a new music
to make a sacred dwelling in a place we cannot own.

connectionWell, as the week wraps up, I can honestly say it’s been an amazing week of events for this year’s Resilience Festival. I feel quite honoured to have been a part of the celebration this year. So far, I’ve been able to attend The Great Turning film screening and discussion, a wonderful film screening of The Garden hosted by our partners at OPIRG Guelph, as well as tonight’s Keynote Speaker event where we heard from local heros on the festival’s theme of “Unleashing Your Awesome”. I also facilitated an amazing visioning session and got to share my experiences with many new faces at a film screening of In Transition 2.0. I am also incredibly excited to attend the Main Day celebration at St. George’s Church tomorrow, including Seedy Saturday, The Reskilling Fair, Workshops, Candle Light Potluck, and Open Mic Entertainment. It’s hard to believe so many awesome activities can be jammed into a single day.

I wanted to take some time to reflect on the keynote speakers from this evening and share a message that I took away from the event. Kevin Sutton, Chris Green, Sally Ludwig, and Christine Mills all shared their personal experiences, stories, and views on how they believe that we can move forward with our own work and unleash awesome in our lives. Each speaker brought their own background and history to the discussion, but there were definitely some common threads between the presentations that really spoke to me.

Chris Green from The Guelph Outdoor School led the presentations and talked about deep nature connection and coyote mentorship. One of the points that he brought up that really resonated with me is how we all feel when we take the time to connect with the natural world (which he took the time to point out includes ourselves and the people around us!). Whether it’s intentional or not, we all feel better when we strengthen our connection with the natural world, which he described as “tentacles reaching out to the world around us”. I thought it was a great visual! He also explained that when our connections strengthen, it’s like our inner “switch board starts to light up with green lights”. I think everyone in the room knew exactly what he was speaking to when he presented this amazing imagery.

Transition Guelph Co-Founders, Sally Ludwig and Christine Mills spoke next about their experience in starting Transition Guelph, the space they were in when starting the initiative, and how the movement grew in Guelph. Both also spoke about the nature of “Inner Transition” which is so core in the Transition model. In addition to the external connections that Chris Green spoke about, Sally and Chris spoke about the connections that we have to make within ourselves, and how that personal connection moves us to action. That motivation can come from different places for each of us, whether it’s concern for future generations, or living a lifestyle that contributes to a whole earth economy, taking the time to recognize the inner change that happens is key to the movement and it’s success.

Finally, Spoken Word Artist Kevin Sutton shared an amazing poem appropriately titled “Keynote” and did an amazing job of connecting all of us in the room! When listening to spoken word, I often let myself be taken away by the rhythm of the poem, so I probably won’t do his message justice, but what I took away built on the previous speakers’ themes of connection, and focused on the connection that we must form with each other in order to make change happen. This sense of communal or community connection was delivered beautifully in his piece.

This theme of connection has been prevalent throughout my festival experience this year. Thinking back to the discussions I had with folks at the Great Turning film screening, one of the questions we were asked to explore was “What keeps your inner fire burning?”. I got the chance to talk with about a dozen people around this topics, and while there were a number of different responses, I think they can be grouped into a few key categories: 1) taking action and seeing change happen, 2) continually learning and educating ourselves on key topics, and 3) taking time to reflect, or taking “down time”. One of the key thoughts I left with that evening was how these three topics were a continuous cycle, and how everyone there agreed that all three kept them moving forward with the work they were doing. I can see definitely similarities between these three topics, and the three types of connection that were discussed at tonight’s keynote events. All three types of connection: nature, inner, and community help create a clearer path of how we can move forward in our own journeys and in our own work.

To wrap up, this year’s festival theme “Unleash Your Awesome” has been a wonderful way to explore how we can all take action – big or small – to realize our potential and contribute to something bigger. Tonight’s keynote talk really helped frame how I can focus on unleashing my own personal awesome – by fostering connection with nature, my community, and also within myself.

We would like to invite you to come and participate in an interactive, art-based focus group and help a master’s student co-create her thesis!

Lucie Bardos is studying human ecology at Lund University in Sweden but is currently in Guelph researching the connection between social justice and the Transition Movement by doing a case study on Transition Guelph. Lucie hopes that her thesis can be a kind of ‘time capsule’ that will capture some of the ideas, challenges and discourses happening around the theme of social justice and transition. In an attempt to make her research more meaningful to the movement for which she is writing her work, she has planned a structured art focus group session. During this session she will ask participants to reflect on different things such as: various aspects of Transition Guelph, ideas and opinions of social justice, and navigating privilege and language. The result of these reflections will be the creation of several art pieces that will be created and then co-analyzed with focus group participants.

Lucie will also be presenting a summary of her research to date and will be collecting feedback and ideas that she can incorporate into her thesis. Please do not worry if you don’t have confidence in your artistic abilities – this is not of importance!

There is a limit of 15 people, so please RSVP to as soon as you can. Thanks to the kindness and open-mindedness of Sally and Christine, the workshop will be held at their house located at 33 Manor Park Crescent in Guelph on Thursday, Feb. 26 from 6:30-9pm. Snacks will be provided as well as most of the art materials, though if you are able to bring some spare markers, crayons, coloured pencils or pastels to share, please do! And if you are willing to make some notes during the discussion section of the workshop, please let Lucie know in your RSVP. Thanks!

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